Sir John Chilcot at the release of his report © Press Association Images
Sir John Chilcot at the release of his report © Press Association Images

Chilcot report criticises equipment supply chain during Iraq conflict

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
7 July 2016

Battlefield operations in the 2003 Iraq conflict were hampered by problems with the procurement of military equipment, according to the long-awaited Chilcot report.

Insufficient supplies and a lack of asset tracking meant large amounts of equipment were “lost” in theatre.

Chilcot said lessons from the first 1991 Gulf conflict, during which 228 aircraft pallets of equipment worth £680,000 went missing, were not learned.

“A number of lessons from previous conflicts and exercises had not been addressed before the deployment to Iraq,” he said.

“In particular, poor asset tracking systems meant that an already overburdened system was put under even greater pressure, and equipment that had been deployed to the forces in Kuwait did not reach the front line before military operations began.”

Chilcot’s document quoted a Ministry of Defence report from 2003 that said: “The flow of logistic information up and down the supply chain and between all stakeholders was poor.

“Large amounts of equipment, stores and supplies were reportedly ‘lost’ in theatre, including ammunition, ECBA [body armour] and NBC [nuclear, biological and chemical] defence equipment … It was not possible to track down high priority equipment that was arriving simultaneously with the sustainment flow.

“As a result UORs [urgent operational requirements] and other priority equipment could not be targeted for rapid processing. This inability to identify the exact location of equipment resulted in the degradation of operational capability.”

Chilcot said: “The emergence after the conflict of the scale and nature of the problems encountered illuminated the extent to which ministers had been unaware of risks being taken for which they would have been accountable.

“The shortfalls in individual equipment, protection against chemical and biological attack, and ammunition did not have an impact on the overall success of the invasion. But they did have an impact on individuals. In the case of Sgt Steven Roberts, it was judged that his death could have been prevented if he had still had his body armour.”

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